Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho gave quite a few positive injury updates ahead of the Red Devils game against Sunderland on Boxing Day.
Manchester United have every reason in the world to have a happy holiday season. Three wins on the trot for the first time since the beginning of the season lifted their spirits enough, but now Mourinho has even more good news for the club.
The Portuguese manager has delivered positive updates on the injury crisis in central defence, stating that everyone is fit and ready to go now.
“It’s good to have everyone available apart from Luke Shaw, who is not far [away],” Mourinho said in his press conference, according to the official club website.
“In the central defender position, we now have all of them. Chris Smalling is back, Eric Bailly is back, Phil Jones is fine, Marcos Rojo is fine, Daley Blind is fine, so it’s a position where it’s very important to have some stability in the options.
“We were in a difficult position a couple of months ago but now we are safe. We know that Bailly is going to the African Cup [of Nations] in January but, for the next three matches, we have them.”
United have been doing quite well with the uninspiring pair of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo in central defence. While Eric Bailly is a sure starter when fit, it remains to be seen if Mourinho reserves the same status for Englishman Chris Smalling.
The absence of Luke Shaw means that the full-back duo of Matteo Darmian and Antonio Valencia will likely start against the Black Cats. The central midfield pair of Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick will start ahead of them.
The Portuguese manage didn’t mention the status of Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but one can infer from his statement that the 27-year-old is available for selection. Mkhitaryan could well start, but in a right-wing position, as his preferred number 10 spot is occupied by Paul Pogba.
Anthony Martial will be looking to make an impression once again on the left-wing. The remainder of the starting XI consists of the two undroppables from Mourinho’s United -. Zlatan Ibrahimovic as central striker and David de Gea in goal.